The 2019 World’s Strongest Man did not go according to plan for British strongman Laurence Shahlaei, who ruptured his Achilles during a heavy yoke on the first day of the events.
His wasn’t the only injury. On the same day, Icelandic strongman Sigfus Fossdal tore his Achilles tendon during the truck pull and eventual third-place finisher Hafthor Bjornsson tore his plantar fascia. This year’s competition also saw Konstantine Janshia injure his triceps and Robert Oberst tear his bicep.
While awaiting surgery — he estimates he has at least a year before he can train at full strength again — Shahlaei took to YouTube to post a “strongman rant” about what he felt went wrong with this year’s competition. The phrase “not good enough” was said a good dozen times, but we’ve pasted the most important portions below. We added the bolding ourselves to emphasize portions we felt were relevant.
I’ve been to World’s 11 times now, qualified 12, and there are some great people that work on the show but there’s things that need to change. (…) The events need to be out to the athletes way way earlier. To prepare for some of these events, it’s not good enough. (…) They’re risking people’s lives. And the people are getting better and the weights are getting heavier and eventually there’s gonna be worse things than this happening to people. It’s not professional enough, if I’m being totally honest with you. I absolutely love this sport, I’m passionate about it, and right now World’s isn’t treating this event as the biggest event in strongman. It needs to be better and something needs to be done about it. (…)
At around 6:30 he notes that he thinks the main reason there have been so many injuries is “the stop start nature of the show” that doesn’t allow athletes time to warm up.
Because it’s so focused on TV, it’s so ‘stop start.’ You’re told to be ready at a certain time, you’re told to warm up. You get warmed up. They’re like ‘Oh, no, wait we’ve got to set the camera up, we’ve got to do this, do that.’ Then suddenly it’ll start raining. You’ve got to cool down go wait in the tent. Then, alright, we’re ready to go, get warmed up again. It’s slowed down, the crowd’s not in the right place, whatever. Then all of a sudden after all this ‘stop start’ it’s like, ‘RIGHT NOW, GO.’ They shove you out there as quick as possible.
He also echoed some of the same concerns that Brian Shaw voiced last week when he posted his own video about what he felt went wrong at World’s Strongest Man: the athletes didn’t get enough notice for what the events were going to be. They were told about the events a little over a week before the competition began and the weights were revealed much later, which some athletes feel didn’t give them enough time to train appropriately.
Shahlaei notes at around the 8:45 mark:
You don’t just chuck in a 600-kilo yoke. The weight isn’t the issue, it’s the fact we weren’t told bout it. The average weight for the World’s Strongest Man yoke is 400 to 450 kilos. Unless you’re telling us we’re training for these exceptionally heavy events, what do you expect?
In Shaw’s video he noted,
Even when we got there, a lot of things changed. The weights, the events, I didn’t find out until the day before the actual competition. (…) Even in the finals walking up to the overhead medley, it was written out the order that we were supposed to go in and that was changed literally as we were walking up to the platform to lift. Which is crazy.
Shahlaei closes his video confirming that he’s not planning to return to the World’s Strongest Man, stating he’s “done with it” and will take a year off to get fitter and get more involved in commentary and other areas behind the scenes. We wish him the best of luck with his surgery and recovery.
Featured image via @biglozwsm on Instagram.